Sunday, October 31, 2010

Warm Plum Pavlova

adapted from Gourmet|April 2009
1/3 cup sugar
2 egg whites at room temperature
2 tablespoons cold water
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Put the eggs into a double boiler with the sugar and a pinch of salt, whisk until the sugar has melted.  Beat in an electric mixer until peaks form.  Add the extract, cinnamon and vinegar.  Keep beating until glossy.  Spread or pipe meringues into disks about 6 inches in diameter on parchment paper-covered cookie sheet.  Bake for approximately 45 minutes.  Turn off the heat, let cool in the oven with the door cracked slightly open.
Pastry Cream
Adapted from Gourmet| May 2000
1 cup whole milk
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tablespoon butter
1 vanilla bean

Place milk and vanilla bean into a sauce pan, bring to a simmer.  Mix egg yolks with sugar and cornstarch in a bowl.  Add hot milk in a stream as to not scramble the eggs.  Pour the entire mixture back into the sauce pan.  Bring to a boil while stirring.  Remove from heat, remove the vanilla bean, and add vanilla extract and butter.  Strain through a sieve.  cover with plastic, let cool to room temperature. 

2 medium size plums, cut into wedges
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tablespoon butter (salted)
red wine
ginger powder
black pepper

Heat butter in a pan over medium heat, add plums, sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla.  Saute until slightly tender.  Season with a pinch of salt, about a 1/8th of teaspoon of each cinnamon, ginger powder, and black pepper.  Add a splash of red wine to loosen the sauce. 

To assemble:
Spoon the pastry cream on the pavlova, add the warm plum with the sauce.  Lightly dust with powdered sugar. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Figs and a farm stand

There's a small farmer's stand on my way home form work that is open through the beginning of winter.  It's an undersized building with an overflow of produce heaped in containers outside under a small covered area. Just last month it was brimming with tomatoes - but those have now been replaced with apples, squash, and pumpkins.  This time of the day, the inside of the building is dark, with the majority of light provided by a few windows which face east and the smell of soil, potatoes, and onions fills the air.  It's not the belle of the ball when it comes to farmer's stands, but there is a certain feeling of nostalgia and surprise that always awaits every time I walk through the door.  

Today is a good day, because I see figs.  Figs are one of those things that are only around when they are in season.  They are finicky - they don't travel well and they don't keep well.  There is a certain something about craving something that is not accessible all the time.  Timing is everything with figs.  Naturally, I could go out and buy a fig tree, care for it, and have figs of my own, but I don't want to do that - not yet.  The addiction to the feeling of ::GASP!:: "FIGS!" at a market is too great, and to me, that is the difference between liking something and loving something.  That same feeling that brings elation also brings a deep fear - not because I don't know what I am doing, but because I am afraid of screwing up.  As if I somehow will not live up to the fig's expectation of what I am going to do with it.  Slightly unreasonable, but everyone has those feelings at one point or another. 
So until my feelings go away, the only promise I can give it is a swirl of deeply luscious buckwheat honey, a tangy drop of goat cheese, and the scorching heat of a broiler.  I hope that does it justice.   

Fig Bruschetta
Rye toast
Herb goat cheese
Buckwheat Honey
Preheat oven on broil (high setting).  Slice figs, spread goat cheese on bread, drizzle with honey and broil on high inches away from heat source until caramelized.

Earl's Farm and Produce
3958 S Milford Rd
Milford, MI 48381
(248) 685-0058

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Corn and Leek Ravioli with a Pea Shoot Salad

1 med size leek
2 cups of corn
1/4 cup onion
1 clove garlic
salt / pepper
olive oil / butter
1/4 cup chicken stock
Melt a couple of tablespoons of butter and oil over medium heat.  Saute garlic and onion until fragrant but not colored.  Add leeks, saute until tender.  Add corn and continue to saute until cooked through.  Season the mixture with salt and pepper.  Puree in the food processor until smooth adding chicken stock until filling consistency (all may not be necessary).  Let cool.

Ravioli Dough
(adapted from Gourmet|April 2008)
1 cup cake flour
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp olive oil
Blend dough in a food processor or by hand, adding water 1 tablespoon at a time until it comes together into a ball.  Knead for a few minutes until dough is smooth and elastic, adding flour if necessary.  Let sit at room temperature for an hour. 
Roll out dough to pasta thickness, cut into medium size disks.  Place mixture into the middle of one disk, leaving a 1/2 inch border.  Moisten the border with water and top with another dough disk, sealing the edges.  Repeat with remaining dough and filling.  Cook in salted simmering water for 4-6 minutes.

2 oz Pancetta
2 tbsp butter
Saute pancetta over medium heat, when almost crisp, add butter and season with pepper.  Drain ravioli and add to the pancetta mixture.  Saute on one side only, spooning the butter mixture over top.  When the bottoms are slightly toasted remove from heat. 

handful of fresh pea shoots
2 tbsp parsley
salt / pepper
olive oil
juice 1/2 lime
In a bowl, mix pea shoots and finely chopped parsley, add salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, top with lime juice and toss until well-mixed. 
Plate ravioli while still warm, topping with the salad.  Finish with more olive oil and sea salt.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Summer's End and Lunch with a Friend

It was the tail end of September when a friend rang to say she was stopping by to get a few things.  She was leaving for Europe for a few months, so naturally I offered to make lunch - just listing a few ingredients over a text to gauge the reaction.  Shrimp, corn, tomatoes, feta, roasted, charred - still unsure about what to make.  The past month has been overdosed with the last of late summer's produce and although the weather has been looking gray, in somewhat of a "terrible twos" manner I still find myself refusing to make "autumn" food.  A fear of bringing the end of fall sooner than it intends to get here, if you will.  So instead, at least for now, it's being mentally kept at bay - keeping it a quiet influence and a slow-moving undercurrent of what is really going on in kitchen.  Knowing well that an occasional brisk look in the direction of the small jars of Saigon cinnamon, star anise, and cardamom in September would turn into contemplative stares by mid October and will become a "replenishment urgently needed" sigh by the beginning of November.  Until the last of the farm fresh produce disappears and the feeling of warm sand between the toes by the lake becomes a distant memory, an occasional resurfacing of seasonal childhood should be encouraged.  Because food and a good laugh with a friend may have to be one of the best reasons to be ever so slightly rebellious against nature.

Corn, two ways with Roasted Shrimp
 (c) Annabella's Kitchen.  All rights reserved.

Serves 2

1/2 lb peeled and deveined shrimp
coase sea salt / pepper / adobo / cumin / touch of dried chipotle chili
juce of half a lime
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Toss all ingredients, let sit for 10 minutes.  Spread in one layer on a cookie sheet.  Bake for 5-10 minutes - depending on size of shrimp.

Corn Base
about 3 ears of fresh corn
small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
adobo / salt / pepper 
butter / olive oil
Sautee onion and garlic in butter and olive oil.  Season.  Add corn.  Sautee until tender.  Divide in half.

Corn Puree
smoked paprika
chipotle chile powder
Puree corn mixture adding cream and seasoning until blended well.  Put through a sieve.  Place into a sauce pan over low heat, add butter, mix until melted.  Keep warm.

Corn Salad
halved cherry tomatoes, handful
cumin, to taste
juice of half a lime
feta cheese, handful
cilantro, to taste
Continue to sautee remaining corn mixture until the onions are slightly caramelized.  Add tomatoes, season with cumin and sautee until tomatoes are warmed through.  Squeeze half a lime over the mixture.  Remove from heat, crumble feta over, stir in cilantro.  Plate all components together and serve.