Habeas Brulee » Fruit http://habeasbrulee.com Sun, 17 Mar 2013 03:04:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.21 Duck Confit and Fig Crostini http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/08/21/duck-confit-and-fig-crostini/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/08/21/duck-confit-and-fig-crostini/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2008 00:14:04 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/08/21/duck-confit-and-fig-crostini/

Figs are marvelous. Dave and I have been eating them with duck confit (as in this spectacularly tasty recipe, all rich luscious duck and bright fresh figs with mustard seeds and curry leaves to perk everything up), pickling them, and just generally reveling in their availability lately.

Instead of apologizing for not updating this blog often enough, let me tell you some interesting things:

Comment #17 was randomly picked as the winner for the A Pig in Provence by Georgeanne Brennan book giveaway from Yummr. Congratulations, Michelle! Just get me your address and Yummr will ship the book directly to you.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to create dishes and meals based on color palettes from Kris’s Color Stripes?

Our occasional restaurant will be catering the VIP suite at SalonCon on September 13th. SalonCon is a one day event in NJ focusing on.. well.. check out their FAQ. Their tagline is “the Victorian Era for the 21st Century”. They have music, book readings, steampunk and neo-Victorian art, a ball, and a set of salons with speakers, suggested readings, and of course a lot of spirited discussion. If you can, please stop by to say hello, join in the event, and taste some of the tasty treats that we will be providing.

Nancy Weber, an author, caterer, and all-around magnificently creative and wonderful woman, has started making these fantastic butcher’s aprons. The photo below is of me wearing mine while trimming lamb shanks (which we braised into melting tenderness using a adaptation of our Pomegranate Ginger Saffron Braised Lamb Neck recipe). I got mine when I saw it hanging in her apartment and fell in love with it on the spot. You can buy your own butcher’s apron here if you’re interested.

2007: Ma La Chicken with Roly-Poly Squash
2006: Fig and Date Basteeya

Duck Confit and Fig Crostini
Approximately 1 1/2 C shredded duck confit (recipe below)
5ish fresh figs
30 or so fresh curry leaves
1 tbsp mustard seeds
Olive oil

Slice the cucumber into thin rounds, using a mandoline if you have one. Mix with a few tablespoons of salt, then set aside for at about an hour. Rinse the cucumber slices, squeeze them dry as you can, and set aside.

Slice a baguette, and toast the slices is you like.

Splash a bit of oil into a pan, then add some mustard seeds, some curry leaves, and some of the shredded duck confit. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the mustard seeds start to pop, the curry leaves start to sizzle, and the duck is warmed through.

Slice the figs into 1/4″ thick rounds. Put fig slices onto the baguette slices, then the duck confit with curry leaves and mustard seeds, then the cucumber slices. Garnish with an extra curry leaf.

Duck Confit
1 duck, legs and wings only (save the breasts to sear and eat separately)
Rendered duck fat or oil
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
Plenty of salt.

Take you some duck legs, and wings if you have them, and put them in a pot. Cover them with rendered duck fat and/or oil. Add the other ingredients. Cook for a couple of hours at a low simmer (the moisture in the duck will simmer; the oil won’t, of course), until the duck is very tender and easily pierced with a fork or even a toothpick. Remove the duck, cool and drain, then shred the meat.

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Moroccan Inspired Pork Shanks http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/05/08/moroccan-inspired-pork-shanks/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/05/08/moroccan-inspired-pork-shanks/#comments Thu, 08 May 2008 14:38:12 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/05/08/moroccan-inspired-pork-shanks/

Just a few announcements here, as I share the recipe for the pork shanks we served at Jack last weekend.

If you’re a blogger of any sort living in NYC, you should come join us at the Brooklyn Blogfest tonight. It will be held at (hold you breath, wait for it, wait for it…) the Brooklyn Lyceum in Park Slope – yes, the very same fabulous location where Dave and I hold our restaurant nights twice a month.

I’ll be there to help set up and participate. I was interviewed for a video of Brooklyn Bloggers that will be played at the event. And, most importantly from your perspective, I’m sure, we’ll be giving away samples of Dave’s brilliantly fantastic homemade marshmallows in a selection of flavors – kahlua, lemon/rose/almond, and Aztec 3.0. I think our plan is to have about 200 bags of marshmallows to give away, so with an expected turnout of closer to 300 people, you better get there early if you want marshmallows tonight!

And speaking of the our restaurant, the May 24, 2008 menu is finally up.

Okay, back to the recipe. These pork shanks were loosely based on some of the fruity tagines we’ve eaten. Since Morocco is an Islamic country, making what basically amounts to a pork shank tagine is probably unheard of in traditional Moroccan cuisine. Sure is tasty, though!

2007: Amaretto Brownies with Saffron Creme Anglaise and Bee Pollen Spice Mix
2006: Paprika Sticky Rolls

Moroccan Inspired Pork Shanks
2 pork shanks (about 2.5-3 lbs)
A bit of oil for browning
for the braise
1/2 tsp saffron threads (1 big pinch)
1 C hot water
1 tsp ground ginger
2 2-inch-long cinnamon sticks
1 tsp csipos (spicy) paprika
1/4 tsp ground cayenne
1/2 preserved lemon
1/8 C tomato paste
to finish the sauce
1 onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 C coarsely chopped dried apricots

Set aside the saffron threads to steep in the hot water.

Brown the shanks by searing them in a little oil in a hot pan on all sides.

Pull the pith and flesh from the preserved lemon and discard. Rinse the peel well. Stir it and the rest of the braising ingredients into the saffron water.

Braise the shanks in the saffron water mix over low heat until meltingly tender, or just pressure cook for 25 minutes on high and then release the pressure by natural release. (Can you tell how much we love the pressure cooker we got this year? We can braise things the slow way, but we both have day jobs, after all.)

Once the pork is ready, remove the meat from the cooking liquid and set it aside to cool a bit. Strain and defat the liquid.

Start to build the rest of the sauce by sauteing the onion in a bit of oil until brown. Stir in the garlic, apricots, and degreased pork cooking liquid.

Cook the sauce for 20 minutes or so. In the meantime, to make service easier you may want to pull on a pair of gloves and pull the meat from the bone, since each shank is big enough to feed several people. This is optional, though.

When the sauce is ready, pour it back over the pork.

I like to serve this with couscous and cucumber salad.

2 C couscous
Olive oil
Cold water

Rinse the couscous in about 6 C cold water. Drain the water, and leave the damp couscous spread out in a roasting pan to absorb what remains for about ten minutes. Rake through the couscous once it dries, breaking up any lumps with your fingers.

Steam the couscous over broth or water for twenty minutes. I use a bamboo steamer set over a water-filled wok and lined with a paper towel before pouring the couscous into it. Leave the couscous uncovered as it steams.

Pour the couscous out back into the roasting pan. I like to wear nitrile or latex gloves for this step to protect my hands from the heat. Cover your hands in olive oil and add cold water slowly, raking the couscous and breaking up any lumps with your fingers as you do so. The couscous expands more from the cold water it absorbs during the raking than it does from the steaming. The oil you are rubbing into the couscous helps keep the grains separated. Add enough cold water for the couscous to stay damp and absorb, but not so much that you soak it. For 2 C couscous, I tend to add about 1 – 1 1/2 C cold water.

At this point, you can set the couscous aside covered with a damp towel for at hours before finishing it with a second steaming. If you do so, just pick up at the next step whenever you like. Otherwise, just set it aside for 10 minutes, uncovered.

Rake the couscous again to remove any lumps and return it to the steamer. (Make sure you still have enough water in the wok below.) Steam twenty minutes, uncovered. Remove from the steamer, work in a bit more cold water if you like, rake out any lumps with your fingers, and serve.

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Kumquat Braised Oxtail with Chestnut Stracci http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/02/13/kumquat-braised-oxtail-with-chestnut-stracci/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/02/13/kumquat-braised-oxtail-with-chestnut-stracci/#comments Wed, 13 Feb 2008 18:48:34 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2008/02/13/kumquat-braised-oxtail-with-chestnut-stracci/

This is one of our great successes this winter.

Oxtail braised with sweet spices, tons of kumquats, low and slow until the sauce is richly fragrant, smooth and thick. The meat is shredded off the bone into the strained sauce with balsamic vinegar stirred in for added complexity, and served with homemade chestnut flour pasta, which adds some toothsome sweetness to balance the intense meatiness of the oxtail.

The almost floral fragrance of the kumquats elevates this dish into something extraordinary. It reminds me of the way preserved lemon adds a sublime quality to Moroccan tagines, though it was actually thrown together from what we happened to notice while shopping at the food co-op, not inspired by any particular recipe or cuisine.

The chestnut stracci recipe is more traditionally based, adapted from an Italian recipe for irregular scraps of pasta made with chestnut flour and eggs. I’m told that “stracci” means “rags,” which is what those pasta scraps are meant to look like. I threw them together after reading through a few recipes and finding the proportions that ultimately worked best for me.

Go on, give this a try before kumquats are gone for the year!

Kumquat Braised Oxtail
3 lbs oxtail, in 2″ (or so) thick slices
Oil for browning
1/2 lb kumquats, sliced into 1/4″ thick rounds and deseeded (don’t stress too much, since they’ll be strained out and discarded in the end)
6 shallots, thinly sliced
1 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 C water

Brown the oxtail in little oil. Stir in all other ingredients except for the balsamic vinegar. Pressure cook at high pressure for 50 minutes (or braise over low heat for probably about 4 hours or so, or until tender).

Remove the oxtail and let cool a bit.

In the meantime, strain the sauce and stir in the balsamic. You can reduce it at this point if necessary, but it really should be thick and lusciously flavorful enough already with no need for reduction.

Pull the meat off the bones, saving the fat, bone, and connective tissue in the freezer for the next time you make beef stock.

Shred the meat and stir it into the sauce.

Refrigerate overnight, and skim off the solidified fat the next day before serving.

Chestnut Stracci
3 C all-purpose flour
1 C chestnut flour
6 eggs
1-2 tbsp olive oil
A big pinch of salt

Knead the ingredients together until they form a dough, then continue kneading for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Let it rest at room temperature wrapped in plastic wrap for 15-30 minutes.

Roll it out as thin as you can – at least as thin as a dime! It will double in thickness when it cooks.

Let it rest another 15 minutes before cutting it into irregular shapes with a fluted pastry wheel.

Cook in salted boiling water for just a few minutes, then strain and serve with the sauce.

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Nibby Strawberry Chestnut Cookies http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/12/14/nibby-strawberry-chestnut-cookies/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/12/14/nibby-strawberry-chestnut-cookies/#comments Fri, 14 Dec 2007 18:24:44 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/12/14/nibby-strawberry-chestnut-cookies/

On a cold winter night, with icy slush waiting just outside the door, the greatest comfort I can imagine involves warm chestnuts, chocolate, and dried strawberries, far more flavorful than the imported ones you can buy this time of year. And last night, as we hid indoors from the “wintry mix” outside (it sounds like a delicious treat, but in fact is a sleeting, slushy, freezing, rainy mess), we were desperate for what comfort we could find.

These cookies are in the extended sandy-textured cookie family, but they’re not your traditional shortbreadish cookies at all. They are a bit sandy, but they’re also lusciously tender, and they absolutely melt in your mouth. Which is not something I usually get to say about cookies.

The chestnut flour may not be identifiable as chestnut to most people who taste these, but it adds a very distinct and silky flavor of its own. The dried strawberries are bursts of intense flavor popping up throughout.

What really happened, of course, was that I bought dried strawberries and chestnut flour and declared that I wanted to bake something with them. When I got home, I looked through my cookbooks until I found a recipe I could adapt to contain them – in this case, Alice Medrich’s nibby buckwheat cookies. A bit of nudging of ingredients later, and my nibby strawberry chestnut cookies were born.

If I make a few more batches and use up more of the chestnut flour and dried strawberries that my kitchen is currently drowning in, maybe I’ll even be able to see my countertop again!

For the food photography folks, you’ll laugh at what I did to take this photo. The background is a piece of really nice paper I picked up in Chinatown, and I didn’t want to ruin it by placing these buttery cookies directly on it. How did I solve the dilemma?

Well, I built little stacks of quarters and placed a cookie carefully on each stack. Four quarter stacks were low enough that they only impacted the shadow lengths slightly, but they were high enough to keep my nice fibrous paper clean and safe. Brilliant or ridiculous? I think both.

I’m submitting these cookies to Food Blogga‘s Christmas Cookies from Around the World 2007.

Also, please remember that Habeas Brûlée 2008 wall calendars are now available for purchase.

And last but probably most important, remember that there’s still time left to donate to charity by bidding on my cooking class for two and all the other wonderful prizes for Menu for Hope!

Nibby Strawberry Chestnut Cookies
(adapted from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich)
1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
3/4 C chestnut flour
1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2/3 C granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 C cocoa nibs
2/3 C dried strawberries (cut into quarters before measuring), reconstituted in boiling water
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk the flours together and set aside.

Beat the butter with the sugar and salt until creamy.

Drain the strawberries, discarding the liquid.

Mix the cocoa nibs, strawberries, and vanilla extract into the butter mixture. Add the flours and mix just until incorporated. Then knead the dough by hand just a tiny bit, a few seconds, until it is nice and smooth.

Form the dough into a 12″x2″ log, then wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least two hours, or overnight.

Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Prepare a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a silpat. Using a sharp knife, cut 1/4″ thick slices of the dough log, and set them on the baking sheet about 1 1/2″ apart.

Bake for about 12-14 minutes, or until just golden around the edges, rotating the baking sheets from back to front and top to bottom halfway through the baking.

Cool the cookies on the pan on a rack for a few minutes before sliding the parchment paper directly onto the rack to let them finish cooling.

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Forbidden Rice with Persimmon and Coconut http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/12/02/forbidden-rice-with-persimmon-and-coconut/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/12/02/forbidden-rice-with-persimmon-and-coconut/#comments Sun, 02 Dec 2007 15:31:28 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/12/02/forbidden-rice-with-persimmon-and-coconut/

Before I explain this dish, I just want to announce that the 2007 Food Blog Awards are now open for nominations. You can nominate your favorite food blogs in various different categories here. Hurry up, because nominations end in just a few days, on Wednesday, December 5th!

Because I am proud of my work, I just might suggest that you nominate my humble blog for food blog of the year, best food blog – writing, or best food blog – photography.

And if I were completely shameless, I would specifically recommend nominating my Kitchenaid Upgrade post, my Cucumber Salad in Two Grandmotherly Styles post, my Beginning Charcuterie: Bacon post, my Apples Doused in Cardamom Wine post, or any other particular post that you like for best food blog – post. And I am completely shameless! It is one of the necessary virtues of being a trial lawyer. There is absolutely no way to get up in front of a jury unless you are willing to embarrass yourself for the sake of your client.

That said, please don’t forget to also nominate the other amazing food blogs out there that are completely worthy of your praise and attention. I’ve already done that part myself.

Enough about contests; let’s talk about the food!

This is another dish inspired by The Orphan’s Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice by Catherynne M. Valente. In her layered maze of story within story, I found persimmons and coconuts to play with.

The Basilisk lived in “his little courtyard full of persimmons and coconuts”, in the spice city of Ajanabh. A girl who was somehow safe from his gaze, who refused to turn to stone, befriended him and visited him often. She cared for him, hurt and alone, after his tongue was torn out by the companions of a dead Star, who needed it to tell their tale the only way they could.

Another girl, who looked just like his friend, came to visit one day, and the Basilisk was surprised and dismayed when she turned to stone before his eyes.

“Holding his grief before him like a lamp, the Basilisk left the city of Ajanabh. And holding his rage before him like a pike, he stared hard at everything he passed: fence-posts, stables, windmills. Basil-fronds. Garlic-patches. Red-pepper fields and black-pepper fields, the green peppers and the pink, and the cinnamon-groves, and the coriander-fields, and the saffron-fields, and the cumin-farms, the salt flats with their crystals like hard, cutting snow, the mustard-plants, the paprika-bushes, and the vanilla beans, thin and dark on the vine. “

After the Basilisk left, I like to think that his friend remained, and that she gathered persimmons and coconuts from the courtyard where she used to visit him. I like to think that she brought them home to to make desserts like this Forbidden Rice with Persimmon and Coconut to eat in remembrance of the Basilisk.

Forbidden rice is a purplish black rice, supposedly called that because in ancient China it was forbidden to be eaten by anyone other than the Emperor. I don’t know if the tale is true, but since this is a dessert grown from a story to begin with, another story should fit in just fine. And more importantly, forbidden rice is a very tasty indeed.

This is my second entry to my food blog event ending on December 17th, A Recipe From the Crease of My Right Eye. Better hurry up and get your entries in soon! Remember, there is a prize at the end for the winning entry!

And while I’m at it, I am submitting this entry to Novel Food as well.

Forbidden Rice with Persimmon and Coconut
1 C forbidden rice
2 C water
2 tbsp sugar
1 14 oz. can coconut milk
1 tsp cardamom
Salt to taste
Fuyu persimmons

Cook the rice with 1 tbsp sugar and salt to taste, until tender.

Simmer the coconut milk with the remaining 1 tbsp sugar, cardamom, and salt to taste. Stir it into the rice.

Peel and dice your persimmons. Serve with the rice.

If you like, serve with dried persimmons slices. These are made by slicing fuyu persimmons thin on a mandoline, laying them out on a baking sheet, and cooking them in a low oven (about 140 F) for a few hours, flipping them occasionally.

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Cranberry Quince Sorbet http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/11/19/cranberry-quince-sorbet/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/11/19/cranberry-quince-sorbet/#comments Mon, 19 Nov 2007 16:45:06 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/11/19/cranberry-quince-sorbet/

Quinces are in season, and this year I mean to take advantage of it. Quinces are like apples’ upscale cousins – tarter, rosier, more gussied up and elegant. While the apple is available right here, right now, the quince must be cooked for a long time until its pale flesh turns a ruddy hue and its lush sweetness is fully evoked. The apple wants you without hesitation, but the quince must be seduced.

When picking a quince, choose the yellowest-skinned fruit you can find. The green fuzzy ones aren’t quite ripe yet – not that you could tell by tasting, since even a ripe quince is too tart to eat raw.

To make this sorbet, we had to simmer the quince down with sugar, water, and vanilla for a long while before adding in the cranberry, running it through a food mill, then chilling and churning the resulting puree. It’s a slow process, but it doesn’t require much supervision, and the final product is well worth the wait.

This is a sorbet, a real vegan treat, but when you put it in your mouth, it’s hard to believe that it contains no dairy. The creaminess is astounding.

In fact, this is my entry for Vegan Ventures, where Tasty Palettes is gathering up vegan recipes this month.

(Not being vegan myself, though, I prefer to eat it with a rich, decadent, dairy-laden chocolate sauce drizzled on top.)

I think Dave plans on making a savory, warm version of this as a cranberry quince sauce for Thanksgiving.

Cranberry Quince Sorbet
3 quinces
3/4 C sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 C water
4 oz cranberries
1/4 C Nocino della Cristina walnut liquor (or any other liquor you may prefer)

Peel and core the quince, and cut into chunks. Put it in a small saucepan. Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the pot, then throw the rest of the bean in after them. Add the water and sugar, stir everything together, and simmer until the quinces turn a lovely pink. Add the cranberries, and continue to simmer until they become tender.

Push the whole mess of stuff through a food mill or fine mesh strainer. Chill in your fridge, then stir in the liquor.

Churn according to your ice cream maker’s regular instructions.

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Apples Doused in Cardamom Wine http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/11/14/apples-doused-in-cardamom-wine/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/11/14/apples-doused-in-cardamom-wine/#comments Wed, 14 Nov 2007 14:01:02 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/11/14/apples-doused-in-cardamom-wine/

This recipe was inspired by The Orphan’s Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice by Catherynne M. Valente. It is the second book of the now-complete series (the first was The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden), and it was just published a few weeks ago. It is brilliant and beautiful, rich and deep, powerful, and important for you to read.

(Obligatory disclaimer: Cat is a friend of mine. But these books are so wondrous that I would recommend them even if I didn’t know her at all.)

The stories in these books are told by a girl with ink-stained, story-stained eyes, to a young son of the Sultan who escapes the watch of his older sister to come out into the garden and hear them. The stories are nested each within each like dolls, like the tales from Arabian Nights, all twining together to make a larger epic. They are not fairy tales, exactly, because they have plots and characters with lives of their own, men and women and beasts who are real people stalking the pages of these books.

In Cities of Coin and Spice, a young Djinn, one of the queens of the Djinn army surrounding a dying city where only the artists and performers remain, enters the city alone to search for a small object. She is caught up in the tales of its inhabitants, and just before the army begins to crash up against the gate, she thinks:

“I think I might have stayed there, I might have walked through the Carnival with a child’s hand in mine, eaten apples doused in cardamom wine and told her how once, when I was very young, I had seen the old Queen dancing in her lonely hall, her embers red as bleeding, and I thought she was so beautiful, then. I thought she must be so happy. I might have done those things.”

When I came across that, it occurred to me that I happened to have home-brewed cardamom wine in abundance already.

You see, this past April, I began brewing a batch of Herbal Masala mead (so named because the spicing was based on that of Kalustyan’s Herbal Masala Chai) – honey wine with cardamom, vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger. Months later, when we racked and bottled it, we found that the cardamom was the strongest note, the flavor that with each sip blew each of us away.

This recipe is inspired by the dreams of a queen of the Djinn seduced by a dying city. She might have walked through the Carnival eating these apples, poached in cardamom honey wine and filled with cardamom whipped cream. She might have.

But she didn’t.

I did, though. And you can.

This is my first gift to the newborn book. And given the overflowing inspiration of it, I am sure this will not be my last.

Apples Doused in Cardamom Wine
Cardamom honey wine (recipe below)
Heavy cream
Ground cardamom

Peel the apples and core them from the bottom with a melon baller. Put them in a saucepan with enough cardamom honey wine to cover. It helps to add clean glass paperweights to bring the level of the wine up if necessary, and you may also want to weight the apples down with the lid of a smaller pot to keep them from floating.

Simmer until they are soft, which you can test with a knife.

When they are done, remove them with a slotted spoon, then raise the heat and boil the wine until it becomes a syrup.

While that’s going on, make the cardamom whipped cream by beating heavy cream with ground cardamom to taste. You probably don’t want to add any sugar here, since the other elements of this dish are so sweet already.

Serve the poaches apples with the cardamom honey wine syrup and cardamom whipped cream. You can sprinkle sugar atop the apples and brulee it with a kitchen torch for extra beauty and tasty crunch.

Cardamom Honey Wine, a/k/a Herbal Masala Mead
15 lbs roman olive honey
1.5 lbs fresh ginger, peeled, and cut into chunks
2 oz cinnamon sticks
20ish vanilla beans, split in half the long way
3/4 oz green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
A packet of champagne yeast

Put all ingredients except for the water and yeast in a large pot over medium-low heat and simmer gently, stirring, for about 30 minutes, or until the honey is liquid like water. You can skim the foam off, but you don’t have to if you’d rather not. It has impurities, but it also has flavor.

Let it cool until it is about blood temperature, or slightly above.

Start your yeast in a cup with a bit of warm water, and leave it be until it gets foamy.

Sterilize a 5-6 gallon glass carboy.

Remove the ginger from the honey and discard, but leave the rest of the spices in there.

Add some water to the carboy, then some honey, then some water, and keep going until you have about 5 gallons of liquid in there altogether. Stir in the yeast. Put on a vacuum lock.

Cover the carboy (sunlight would wreck this project) and forget about it for 3-6 months. I wrapped mine in a blanket and stuck it in the corner of my living room, nestled between bookshelves. You should be able to hear it bubbling a bit and smell alcohol when you check on it the next day.

Rack the mead (remove the mead with a plastic tube, leaving the gunk on the bottom behind) into bottles. (We racked most of ours into half-gallon mason jars.) If you want, you can do a secondary ferment to carbonate it – I did this quite by accident with some of my sealed mason jars, actually.

The longer you let it age, the smoother and tastier it will be.

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Almond Buttermilk Biscuits with Sour Cherry Compote, Butterscotch, and Candied Pickled Ginger http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/10/24/almond-buttermilk-biscuits-with-sour-cherry-compote-butterscotch-and-candied-pickled-ginger/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/10/24/almond-buttermilk-biscuits-with-sour-cherry-compote-butterscotch-and-candied-pickled-ginger/#comments Wed, 24 Oct 2007 17:23:50 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/10/24/almond-buttermilk-biscuits-with-sour-cherry-compote-butterscotch-and-candied-pickled-ginger/

This dessert is entirely Dave’s creation. He calls it CBGB (cherries, biscuits, ginger, and butterscotch), but I just can’t bring myself to call it that, personally. I prefer recipe names that really warn you about what you’re getting yourself into. It’s a due process issue, as far as I’m concerned – when I skim through recipes, I expect fair notice just by looking at their titles.

Here’s what you’re getting yourself into: The light, soft buttermilk biscuit has just a touch of almond flavor to it, that comes out more with each bite. It is the sturdy base which supports the other components in this dish. The sour cherry compote just blazes with flavor, tart and sweet and intoxicatingly intense. The pickled ginger barely needs to be candied at all, but the added sugar adds a nice crunch to the already crisp ginger.

The pickled ginger and sour cherry flavors really sing together – those two are the key flavors in this dish, the ones that truly dazzle the senses. And the creamy buttermilk pulls everything together, finishing the job in perfect harmony.

Almond Buttermilk Biscuits with Sour Cherry Compote, Butterscotch, and Candied Pickled Ginger
For the almond buttermilk biscuits
250 g all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C (8 tbsp, or 1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 C buttermilk
1/2 tsp almond extract
For the sour cherry compote
600 g frozen pitted sour cherries
150 g sugar
For the butterscotch
3/4 C dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 C light corn syrup
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 C heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp xanthan gum or 7 g agar agar
For the candied pickled ginger
Pickled ginger

Make the almond buttermilk biscuits

Preheat your oven to 450 F.

In a food processor, process together all the dry ingredients. Cut the butter into chunks and add it. Pulse ten times or so. Add in the buttermilk and almond extract, then pulse six or so times, until a dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a floured countertop. Shape it into rough lump. Cut the dough into 16 pieces. Roll each piece into a sphere. Place them on a parchment paper covered baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes or so, or until golden brown on top.

Make the sour cherry compote

Cook the cherries and sugar together in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until most of the liquid is gone.

Make the butterscotch

In a small saucepan, simmer the sugar, corn syrup, butter, and cream of tartar together until it reaches 240 F, then immediately stir in the heavy cream and vanilla extract. To thicken it nicely, add either the xantham gum (for a more silky texture) or the agar agar (for a more slithery texture).

Make the candied pickled ginger

Roll the pickled ginger in sugar. Discard the now-damp sugar. Roll the pickled ginger in fresh sugar. Remove the ginger from the sugar, and slice it into thin slices.

Plate and serve.

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Chewy Cherry Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/09/25/chewy-cherry-almond-chocolate-chip-cookies/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/09/25/chewy-cherry-almond-chocolate-chip-cookies/#comments Tue, 25 Sep 2007 16:03:05 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/09/25/chewy-cherry-almond-chocolate-chip-cookies/

I’d been craving chocolate chip cookies for weeks before I made these. But I was always too busy, or occasionally, trying to take a day now and then without eating any desserts. (This is difficult for me. I don’t tend to eat huge quantities of dessert, but I like a little bit of sweetness at the end of my meals.)

Then my mother handed me a bag of dried cherries. She’d bought them for herself, but after tasting one, she decided that they weren’t actually for eating. They were for baking! And since she doesn’t bake, that meant that they were for me! Oh happy day.

I made these cookies to keep a carful of friends happy during the 2 hour drive out to the orchard where we went apple-picking a few weeks ago. When my friend’s pre-diabetic boyfriend kept eating them to the point where his hands started shaking, I figured they were a success – a dangerous success, sure, but a success nonetheless.

They’re a bit almondy, but mostly it’s that fabulous one-two hit combo of chocolate and cherries that makes them so very satisfying.

Be warned, though – they’re so soft and chewy that they tend to just fall apart. I suggest serving them to friends at home, where everyone is happy just grabbing pieces of cookie off the pile on the plate and sharing the joy together.

Chewy Cherry Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies
(adapted from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion)
3/4 C (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2/3 C packed dark brown sugar
2/3 C granulated sugar
2 tbsp light corn syrup
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 C all-purpose flour
2 C chocolate chips
1 C dried cherries, cut into thirds

Preheat your oven to 375°.

Beat together the butter, sugars, corn syrup, and vinegar until nice and creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the vanilla extract, almond extract, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Beat or stir in the flower until just barely incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips and dried cherries. Relax, your work is nearly done.

Place tablespoons of dough on parchment paper covered baking sheets, about 2″ apart. Bake for about 10 minutes or until done, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through.

Let them cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes, until you can safely transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

These cookies have a tendency to fall apart, but so be it. They’re still really tasty.

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Chocolate Raspberry Napoleons http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/09/11/chocolate-raspberry-napoleons/ http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/09/11/chocolate-raspberry-napoleons/#comments Tue, 11 Sep 2007 15:21:26 +0000 http://habeasbrulee.com/2007/09/11/chocolate-raspberry-napoleons/

Not everything has to be complicated. These napoleons are dead simple and utterly delicious. The chocolate layers are made of an easy-schmeasy faux chocolate mousse, made by melting chocolate into heavy cream, chilling it, and whipping it like whipped cream. Phyllo is purchased, layered, and baked with minimal effort. And raspberries, oh, luscious, seasonal raspberries!

This came about because I found raspberries for sale at the greenmarket for half the price I’m used to, so I bought a bunch and came home looking for an excuse to play with them. They are more expensive and, honestly, tastier earlier in the season, but so be it. I wanted to take advantage of those last lovely berries trickling in before they were completely gone for the year.

Anyways, I am short on time lately, so it had to be a simple, fast recipe. A bit of brainstorming later, this is what Dave and I came up with.

(You know what our brainstorming is like by now, right? First he says that it has to involve chocolate. Then I say that there are other options. Then he says, if there’s no chocolate it doesn’t even count as dessert. Then I say, I want rose petal jelly with my raspberries! &c.)

I want to have a dinner party, just so I can serve all the easy food we’ve been making lately. Mango served with a dipping mix of sugar, salt, and cayenne. Some sort of straightforward fish dish. These napoleons. All of the accolades, none of the sweat.

Chocolate Raspberry Napoleons
Phyllo dough
Granulated sugar
4 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 C heavy cream
Fresh raspberries
Rose petal jelly (optional)

Create the pastry layers.

Preheat your oven to 375°.

Lay out a sheet of phyllo. Brush it with melted butter, sprinkle on some sugar, and lay another sheet on top of it. Keep going like that until it is 8 layers deep. Cut the phyllo into napoleon-sized pieces with a pizza roller and place them on a baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Create the easy-schmeasy faux chocolate mousse.

Chop the chocolate up fairly finely. Heat the heavy cream until it steams, then pour it over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate melts in and is incorporated. Chill, then whip as you would whipped cream.

Put everything together.

Build the napoleons: a layer of phyllo, a layer of chocolate, a layer of fresh raspberries, another layer of chocolate, another layer of phyllo. Melt the rose petal jelly in the microwave and then spoon or brush it on top.

I actually preferred these after they chilled in the fridge overnight, because it let the chocolate layers stiffen up some until they were more mousse-like.

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